Circles & Duel of Wits

So let’s say I want to uncover an official who harbors a hidden secret - you know, a standard use of Circles from p. 346. So I take a builder scene to test Circles (probably factoring +2 Ob for the hidden secret), and I get the guy. Then I want him to spill the beans…only now I can’t, because I used a builder so I don’t get a conflict scene! This hits especially hard if I flub the Circles roll and the Enmity Clause comes into play - now he’s for sure not gonna spill unless I get to DoW him. What gives?


If you succeed, just narrate him telling you the info, you’re buddies after all.

Or phrase the intent differently. Instead of saying “I want to find a guy who knows a thing” and then browbeating it out of him via Dual of Wits, say “I want to find a guy who will be willing to tell me about a thing” and add the extra ob for being predisposed to liking you.

Finally, you can add extra ob to have it be at the beginning of a conflict scene. You may fail and he may not like you, but he’s probably not going to like you after you rake him over the coals for his secret information.

why not an Interrogation test against his Will?

Or why not let him stew in the hoosegow for a turn until you can get back to him? You’re a busy man/woman/kerrn/worm!

To build on what Luke said:

  1. The Interrogation roll is a definite possibility, especially if you haven’t used up all the rolls from your builder.

  2. Another player can lead the interrogation. This way you pass the spotlight around.

  3. Waiting until the next maneuver is a perfect option. You don’t have to wrap up every plot line every session. In the past, when I’ve written about using your builders to set yourself up for the next maneuver, this is exactly the sort of thing I mean.

Imagine playing the session. You use your builder to identify the guy and disappear him. We all have a good idea what the next session is going to be about. When it starts, one of the players uses his builder to investigate, digging up all the dirt against the guy he possibly can so you can use it as leverage.

Another player uses his builder to work on the guy with the torture skill, softening him up for you.

Finally, you use your conflict to hold the duel of wits.

Of course, meanwhile, the GM has marshaled his Figures of Note and their scenes to attempt to mount a rescue.

Thanks for the ideas. Now I must consider how best to screw this guy.

As an aside, is that what that +1 Ob “opening to a conflict scene” does? It lets you sneak in a Circles test so you can start your conflict with the test’s target? That’s clever.


Oh right, yes! Remember, a conflict isn’t just the fight/dow. It can sprawl out to everything else happening immediately (IMMEDIATELY) around the action.


So a failed Infiltration test that sprawls into an Interrogation Duel of Wits would all be a conflict scene, right? This is probably part of p. 291, “Blending Scenes,” huh?


Yup! If you’re being all stealthy and trying to nab the plans for a Vaylen battlestation and get caught inside their fortress by their alien security monsters, instead of getting caught you can be like “I’m upgrading to conflict and blasting my way out!” Of course, people might get annoyed if they were planning on something else with that conflict, and if you’re out of conflicts you’re going to get caught and need a rescue next maneuver. Assuming you take the upgrade, you’re refunded the builder and it’s an infiltration roll at the start of the conflict now.

Another way to deal with this if you are short on conflict scenes or see it as more of a tension-building thing than the Real Deal could be to bribe the guy you just circled up to get the dirt you need. Circles, with an intent to find a person in the know; Resources, with an intent to stun said person with fistfuls of cash/‘consumables’/gear/etc.

If and when that fails (and you don’t get/take the Gift of Kindess…) you can start to lay the boot in with Interrogation or your preferred compliance-assurance technique.

And this is great! I think we may have been enforcing the structure too hard and getting weird results from it.